Shelf life of ammo?
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Thread: Shelf life of ammo?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Prince William County, Virginia, USA

    Shelf life of ammo?

    I have 50 Rds of personal protection ammo.
    Hopefully I will never have to use it.

    How long can I keep it around before I should consider it unreliable?

    I know people are shooting military surplus from decades ago...
    Then again, I've been told one year... MAX

    Whom should I trust? What can I do to prolong my ammo (and magazine) storage?

    Currently, I keep the ammo and gun in an electronic safe when I'm at home. I rotate between magazines approximately monthly.

    It's not a sealed airtight safe, so it may as well be out on the shelf though...

    When I go to the range, I unload the magazine and fire my FMJ ammo. Then I put the hollow point back when I leave.

    I inspect the ammo where the bullet is crimped into the casing. I'll scrap any messed up ones (So far none.)

    I'd really hate to have any FTF problems, especially when confronted with an intruder.

  3. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Gray Court, SC
    As long as you keep it cool and dry it will last for many years. I'm shooting some WWII ammo without any problems. Now carry ammo is different. Temperature change, moisture and gun oil can cause problems with carry ammo. For that reason I won't carry it for more than 6 months at the most. I try to fire off my carry ammo after about 3 months of carry. This allows for fresh carry ammo and to maintain proficiency using my carry ammo.
    USAF Retired, CATM, SC CWP, NH NR CWP, NRA Benefactor
    To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them... -- Richard Henry Lee, 1787

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Kalifornia & Idaho
    The biggest worry would be oil seeping into the cases (left in from cleaning). Some ammo is pretty well sealed but it is a threat. Most people suggest you routinely shoot up your carry ammo and replace it.

    Life Member NRA
    Life Member CRPA
    Life Member SASS

    What you say isn't as important as what the other person hears

  5. #4

    Better safe than otherwise....

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Hat View Post
    Temperature change, moisture and gun oil can cause problems with carry ammo. For that reason I won't carry it for more than 6 months at the most. I try to fire off my carry ammo after about 3 months of carry. This allows for fresh carry ammo and to maintain proficiency using my carry ammo.
    This is some great advice. Even IF the actual life of your carry ammo may be longer, carry ammo is not training ammo. If, by some twist of circumstances, oil and temperature variables conspire to compromise your training ammo, you may get the additional training of clearing a stoppage/malfunction - and no worries. It's all good.

    But if that same twist of circumstances were to occur to the ammo you carry for self-defense purposes, a really bad day then has the potential to end horribly worse. We "good guys" already start most gun fights in second place. It's only through superior training and thorough preparation we don't end a gun fight in second place.

    I'm all for burning up carry ammo - for just that reason - periodically as well. Whether it's once a quarter, or twice a year, it's far better safe than otherwise. IMO.
    "There is no consitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen." (7th Cir. 1982, Bowers v. DeVito)Stay safe, and stay

  6. #5
    A fellow shot some 30+year old ammo in our concealed carry class shooting test. His third round of .38 Special blew apart in his old S&W revolver, peppering him with debris on his face and hands. Although the handgun checked out okay by a site gunsmith, an inspection of the ammo revealed there were some "green" cartridges in the box. The student bought some fresh ammo, completed the test and left those degraded rounds with the gunshop owner. When that cartridge blew there was enough to fire to make my black powder revolvers jealous.

    I think the safety glasses the fellow wore prevented some potential eye damage.
    Last edited by BearTaylor; 02-10-2009 at 02:18 AM.

  7. All good advice. Best practice is to NEVER keep your carry gun loaded at night. At a minimum, remove the magazine. Recommended is remove the rounds from the magazine and wipe them down, wipe off the exterior of the magazine with a clean dry towel, as well as the magazine chamber inside the grip (not that I actually practice these good habits). Even partially practicing these routines will extend the life of your PD ammo.

  8. #7
    I have obsessed over this issue and that of primers and powder for reloading since the 1970’s. Rotation is the key in MY factory carry. My gunsmith/machinist/blacksmith/FFL (All the same guy, very well rounded) has suggested the issue of the degradation of the rounds due to excessive heat and the continued action of the powder in extra ammo in a vehicle. The post concerning the issue of oil contamination is certainly valid and as per most training either in published material and training. I have some 1943 ACP .45, government issue in box that I am proud of but not for use. I date all my ammo and components and the factory carry I mark with a black indelible marker across the case for identification purposes. In the days that I was in competition (Not very good, but did enjoy the sport) that is what we did to recognize our cases. Just had to have a different method. That was a few years back with a model 19, 15 and, really, a 28 Smith and Wesson. Wish I had the 28 and the 19. I will be interested in hearing from the folks on this post.
    "Undocumented Second Amendment Supporter, fighting against suppression of mandatory background checks."

  9. Shelf life of ammo?

    I cycle through my ccw ammo throughout the year. In addition to the above posts, if you have a semi-auto, then it also ensures the ammo you chose can still cycle through your weapon properly as wear may cause some unforeseen issues.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Keysville Va.
    As the Range Master for a 450 man Police Department I made all of the officers fire their issued ammunition each time they came out to re-qualify. This insured that they knew what to expect from the factory ammo as far as recoil was concerned and that they were carrying fresh ammo when they left the range. We requalifyed twice per year.

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